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When the trusty Oral-B has outlived its service in the bathroom, it can begin its new life in the shop. I was reminded recently that old toothbrushes are incredibly handy to have around when you need to get nasty stuff less nasty.

The little nylon bristles can work all kinds of modern miracles, like getting the grime out of textured auto dash material or getting dirt out of vents.  They’re small enough to fit in almost anywhere and the business end is tough enough to conquer big-time funk.

In short, your brush is ready for a whole new tour of duty after the last bit of toothpaste has touched the bristles.

 
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You can rekey a lock quickly and simply, in an evening — it might qualify as a “One-Beer” project, if you’ve got just one lock to rekey. Change-A-Lock and other companies make kits that allow you to change the key for a lock. But if you want a key you already have to fit all your doors, you’ll probably have to either hire a locksmith or do the work yourself.

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July 4th — the firebug’s holiday — is coming, so I’m bringing up fire safety again. At the Toolmonger shop, we take safety very seriously, and although we’re not the final authority on fire safety, we run into some good information and try to get opinions from experts when we can. Whether you’re following our advice or someone else’s, make sure you’re as prepared for a fire as you can be — it could be your shop, or even a life on the line.

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The recent spike in fuel costs is hitting tradesmen right in the bottom line. Plumbers, masons, drywall installers — and all the other professionals who require a full-size truck to bring home the bacon — are feeling the pinch. All is not lost, though; these three simple changes in driving style and vehicle maintenance can yield appreciable gains in fuel economy.

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Going green is well and good, but I’m more willing to look at an “eco-friendly” solution if it’ll also save me some money.  And since saving water is saving money, I’m attracted to any tool that’ll help keep my new trees alive without making the water meter run.  This root irrigator is just such a tool — it delivers water from your hose deep down into the dirt so it can’t just evaporate off.  This method also encourages trees and bushes to develop stronger and deeper roots, so they’re tougher and more able to withstand dry spells.

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If you don’t know, ask. I ask lots of questions — because I don’t know everything — and my inquisitive nature recently led to a badass experience at the metal yard we frequent.

Last week I started chatting with the the gentleman working the counter at the steel yard. When I mentioned we were building a rig to break some tools, he told me the steel yard crew is really hard on their tools, so they’ve found a great supplier for big ticket items like magnetic drills. I immediately asked, “What’s a magnetic drill?,” and he rewarded my question with a delightful demonstration of the tool.

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Grab some candles that’ve seen the end of their use as a light source, and you can finish woodwork on a lathe beautifully and economically. Once the actual shaping is complete and you’ve sanded to your satisfaction, simply hold the candle stub to the wood and watch the shine grow. It may not be the highest quality finish, and it’s certainly not the most complicated, but the candle wax produces a warm glow that brings out the beauty of the wood — and it can be as cheap as free if someone in the house is forever burning candles.

Photo from Flickr member Paraflyer.

Lathe Finish Tips [Ask Dresdner]
Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]

 

U-Haul

When the proud day finally comes, and your son/daughter/mother/girlfriend loved one is finally moving out, what tools do they need? Whether you donate some of your extras or head off to the big box in search of a tool kit, you’ll have to decide which tools are the essentials for someone moving out on their own. From previous posts, we obviously all agree that they’ll need a knife, at least a utility knife — but what about wrenches, pliers, and other handy life-saving tools?

Let’s say you’re limited to what can fit in a small tool bag, like the size of an overnight bag, or an average-sized men’s boot. What critical tools go with your loved one, to get them through the shock of not being able to borrow yours? And which tools do you wish would fit in the boot? Let us know in comments.

 
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Long time TM reader Tracy writes: “Concrete anchor bolts are great for pulling blind bearings — for example, wheel bearings on a motorcycle.  It’s hard to get a bearing puller behind these kinds of bearings since there’s usually a spacer pushed up tight against them.  Instead, you can insert a concrete anchor like this into the bearing, expand it by tightening the nut, then using a drift from the opposite side of the wheel to tap it out along with the bearing.”

Tracy’s full of kick-ass tips like this, and he posted a dozen or so to the TM photo pool.  Check out the pool for more.

Toolmonger’s Photo Pool [Flickr]

 
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Whether they love it or hate it, almost every Toolmonger has a can of WD-40 on a shelf somewhere around the shop.  Now the Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle club has assembled a list of 1,997 “unofficial” uses for everyone’s favorite water dispersant.  Take a gander, but beware of #389: “Makes deadbolt locks work better.”  You don’t want to go there.

(Thanks, Mr. South, for the great CC-licensed photo.)

2,000 Unofficial Uses For WD-40 [Tacoma Wheelmen’s Club]